The meaning of Advent. The name Advent comes from the Latin ‘Adventus’, ‘coming’, ‘approach’. We remember both the first coming of the Lord in his Incarnation, and his approaching return as risen Lord in all his heavenly splendour. In advent we can contemplate the completion of the work of redemption. The purpose of advent is the rouse once again in the people of the Church the anticipation of the End, the great day of the Lord, and to bid them be prepared for it. The Sundays of Advent are always the four Sundays before Christmas Day. Every Sunday has a clear theme. The first Sunday focuses on the final times, the fulfilment of all things (eschatology). The second and third Sundays both focus on the ministry of the forerunner, John the Baptist. The fourth Sunday shows the events that prepared for Jesus’ birth. The liturgical colour throughout Advent is violet, symbolizing not penitence as it does in Lent but rather the royalty of the approaching King.
The Third Sunday of Advent sounds a note of anticipatory joy: rejoice, for the messianic age is here! An increasing certainty, reassurance and joy characterises this Sunday. This third Sunday of Advent is also called Gaudete, ‘Be glad, rejoice!’. Rose, brighter than the sombre violet, is today’s colour. John the Baptist sent his disciples to ask Jesus, are you the one who is to come? He answered with Messianic citations and praised John.
The Fourth Sunday of Advent. The theme of the final Sunday before Christmas is the incarnation of the Word of God, the expectation of Israel, Mary, and the Church. ‘Drop down dew from above, you heavens, and let the clouds rain down the Just One; let the earth be opened and bring forth a Saviour.’ This famous passage from Isaiah is forshadowing the work of the Saviour who will unite heaven and earth as the Exultet-song at Easter will proclaim. This final Sunday resounds with confidence, expectation and hope. The convincing proof is yet to come, when the hopes and dreams and prayers of the ages are fulfilled. This is what we are waiting for in Christmas.